For release on Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Grow the Flow Seeks 100,000 Citizens to Rescue Great Salt Lake
SALT LAKE CITY, UT, October 4, 2023 – As the boost from this winter’s record snowfall wears off, Great Salt Lake remains a top concern for Utahns. With the lake level rapidly receding, a new coalition is trying to turn the tide. The group calls themselves Grow the Flow, and they have a single goal: get more water to Great Salt Lake.
Grow the Flow is forming a public action network of 100,000 people to support a “rescue” of Great Salt Lake. They are working with policy specialists, scientists, and water users across the West to restore Great Salt Lake within the next 10 years. Grow the Flow is an initiative of the nonprofit group Conserve Utah Valley, which has been involved in several conservation issues in Utah County, including helping protect Bridal Veil Falls and Utah Lake from private development.
“There are so many people doing amazing work on the lake,” said Rachel Wood, a professor of ecology at Brigham Young University and Grow the Flow’s scientific director. “The emphasis on finding solutions has been encouraging. We can’t negotiate with water—we have to figure out how to live within our means.”
Like most saline lakes around the world, Great Salt Lake has been drying up because of unsustainable water use. Lawmakers have made substantial improvements to state laws, but these efforts have not yet created a measurable impact on the lake.
“Looking at lakes like this globally, no one has cracked the code,” said Brigham Daniels, law professor at the University of Utah and Grow the Flow’s policy director. “Our state has already taken important steps to rise up to the challenge. Still, it’s going to take a lot of effort, out-of-the-box thinking, and willingness to change to bring the lake back from the brink. I think our state is up to the task.”
Grow the Flow wants to support and expand the state’s efforts to conserve and shepherd water to Great Salt Lake. “I think that fear and frustration are the main emotions associated with Great Salt Lake right now,” said Ben Abbott, a professor of ecology at Brigham Young University and the executive director of Grow the Flow. “Rather than blaming or claiming credit, we want to bring the public together and provide technical and public support for our lawmakers and managers. I’ve never seen this much unity about an environmental issue in Utah before.”
Grow the Flow has four main “pillars” or initiatives. First, they want to coordinate a community of 100,000 citizens working in a public action network to support water conservation. Second, they are bringing together scientists, engineers, and innovators from the public and private sectors in a research coordination network to solve technical challenges such as water monitoring and conservation. Third, they are working with policy experts and lawmakers to develop and support innovative water legislation to reverse the lake’s decline. Fourth, they are trying to increase financial support for Great Salt Lake through fundraising, policy, and outreach.
“We only stand a chance of solving this problem as a watershed, so we are trying to build a movement where everyone has a place,” said Sarah Witney, the student lead of the Brigham Young University chapter of Grow the Flow. “We’ll be holding town halls to support our lawmakers and sharing ideas for personal water conservation through education and service events,” said Witney.
BYU’s Ballard Center for Social Impact, housed in the Marriott School of Business, will be a key partner for Grow the Flow. Other partners include the newly formed Silicon Slopes Prosperity Coalition and some of the many advocacy groups already striving to save the lake. Rather than competing with other groups, Grow the Flow says they are trying to collaborate with all private and public entities that want to do their part to restore Great Salt Lake.
“Wherever we go, people are asking, ‘what can I do to help Great Salt Lake?’,” said Wood. “We have the opportunity to be the first community to restore their saline lake. That’s going to take collaboration between government, corporations, farmers, and individuals from every corner of the state and beyond.”
About Grow the Flow: Grow the Flow, an initiative of Conserve Utah Valley, is a coalition of researchers, advocates, and private citizens working to restore water to the Great Salt Lake. To join the movement and learn more, visit https://growtheflowutah.org. Follow @growtheflowutah on Instagram and Facebook and @growtheflow on Twitter. For collaboration and press inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.